Is Social Media Good or Bad for your Health?

Various health organisations such as the National Health Service (NHS) and Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) have conducted studies to find out whether social media is good or bad for you and your children.

The Positives

There are many benefits to using social media. It can help people keep in contact with each other directly and has enabled us to keep up to date with each other’s lives indirectly. It’s a great tool that enables us to catch up on events that we may have missed such as weddings, birthdays, etc. It has made the world a lot smaller than it used to be.

I could take a photo of my dog and share it with the world in seconds. It has the potential to create an improved sense of community and self-identity, for example, with a platform such as YouTube we have the ability to learn and share through videos.

Being able to communicate with each other through social media, regardless of where we are in the world, has definitely changed how people interact. This would be considered a positive point and enables us to maintain healthy relationships with our friends and family.

The Negatives

A survey was conducted and published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) on 1,479 young people, aged 14-24, scoring popular social media apps on their effects such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying, body image and FOMO (fear of missing out).

One of the worst scoring apps was Instagram, with people creating a social media “perfect life”. It can cause depression, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and other self-esteem / confidence related issues.

The effects of social media can also cause people to be less social in real life, they become reclusive and it can create a “time sink”. For example, have you ever sat on Facebook scrolling through your feed, watching funny videos and then you realise that 45 minutes or an hour has just passed you by. I know I have.

Social media can also make you less productive as a person, which can in turn have a negative impact on your life. Every platform is different but you can run the risk of online bullying, exposure to explicit content or online predators. These online dangers can have a negative impact on your health or that of your children.

Conclusion

Social media isn’t exactly good or bad, it just depends on how you use it. These are only a few examples I have discussed as to how it can affect you and your children’s health. I’ve provided a few top Guru tips that can help you keep a healthy balance with social media.

Top Tips
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
  • Ensure you pay attention to who your children follow or friend on social media.
  • It’s healthy to have face to face interactions.
  • If you feel that you or your child are facing any negative impacts from social media, you can seek professional help through The Samaritans or the NSPCC.
  • Screen Time Parental Control is a free app that limits the amount of time your children spend on social media.
  • The MMGuardian Parent App can be used to keep track of your child’s online activity.

O2 and NSPCC want to help your family enjoy the best of the digital world safely and confidently. To help, we’ve put lots of useful information on our website. Or if you would prefer to speak to someone, call our online safety advice helpline, visit o2.co.uk/nspcc or call 0808 800 5002. Lines are open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 6pm on weekends and will be free of charge.

The NSPCC helpline is open 24 hours a day, ready to give support and advice to any adult who’s worried about a child. Call 0800 800 5000, visit nspcc.org.uk/help, email help@nspcc.org.uk